Ranking the Eagles’ 2022 opponents from weakest to strongest

Eagles devonta smith
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 26: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates a first down during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles, along with the rest of the NFC East, lucked out on the schedule draw for the upcoming season. However, that glosses over the fact that Philadelphia faces some intriguing tests in 2022. Here is a list of each game, ranked easiest to most difficult. Let me just say that this was a trickier task than I has originally thought.

17) Week 9 – @ Houston Texans

I fail to see anything impressive about Houston’s roster. Sure, they had a stellar draft, but there are so many holes on this team that the starting depth chart is mostly just a collection of band-aids to stop the leaking. The most compelling storyline in this one is a Cameron Johnston and Steven Nelson revenge game. Nevertheless, the Eagles will be coming off a short week, as this game will be played on Thursday, and will have to fly to Houston after taking on an always rugged Steelers team. Still, this one shouldn’t be close.

16) Week 4 – vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Doug Pederson is without question a talented coach, and may just be the answer in Jacksonville, but this roster is a long way away from being a competitive NFL team. Trevor Lawrence will undoubtedly improve on his lackluster rookie season. Even so, the Eagles will face the Jags early in the season, and in Philadelphia.

On paper, this is one of the most one-sided games of the season even with the Jags impressive draft class and off-season spending. In four contests AJ Brown has two 100-yard, 1 touchdown games against the Jags, and the other two you can chalk up to Tennessee being Tennessee. This might very well be another big game for him.

15) Week 15 – @ Chicago Bears

The Bears are in the midst of a full rebuild, and it won’t be a quick turnaround. Bidding farewell to Matt Nagy was a good start, but Matt Eberflus will have his work cut out for him with this roster. The Bears didn’t address their abysmal offense until the third round of the draft and failed to add anyone significant in free agency. Traveling to Chicago in December to take on a defense that will be doing everything they can to show they still have teeth won’t be fun, but the Eagles should be able to get this done without too much concern.

14) Week 18 – vs. New York Giants

It’s tough to put a division match-up this early on the list, but the Giants will be playing for pride at this point in the season. The Eagles could very well be resting starters to prepare for the playoffs, but even still, this could be a tight game in Philly. The Giants are searching for a direction and certainly have some talent on the roster, but this isn’t the year they right the ship. This might be a loss, but it will be a meaningless one. If this game has any playoff implications at all, expect the Eagles to leave no doubt.

13) Week 14 – @ New York Giants

Same as above, but the Eagles have to travel to New York and this one might still count for something. The Eagles have won eight of the last ten games against the Giants, but the two losses have come away from home, and late in the year. At this point in the season, this game will still have significant ramifications for playoff seeding. In the NFL, you don’t earn a playoff spot if you can’t win in your division.

12) Week 1 – @ Detroit Lions

This game will surprise a lot of people. The Lions are still developing their identity, but they showed last year they can put up points with the best of them and made some major moves to secure Jared Goff some new weapons. The combination of Amon-Ra St. Brown, DJ Chark and Jameson Williams is actually a formidable combination. Unfortunately, Williams won’t take the field until likely midway through the season, which means the always electric D’Andre Swift will be heavily involved from the jump. The defense is ultimately where Detroit falls short. Dan Quinn will get his team ready to play, but they simply don’t have the personnel to contain the Eagles’ offensive weapons.

11) Week 10 – vs. Washington Commanders

The Eagles are 8-2 in the last ten games against Washington. Granted, the Commanders have been without a legitimate NFL quarterback for quite some time. Say what you will about Carson Wentz, but Eagles fans know better than anyone what the man is capable of if he is at his best.

This Commanders’ team has a lot of talent, and Ron Rivera is still one of the best coaches doing it. I wouldn’t count out this team to make a push for a wildcard spot if the defense can get back to its 2020 ways. That being said, Wentz has trailed off late in the season for the last two years in a row and will have to face a Philadelphia crowd that wants nothing more than to watch him fail in his new city. This game could be a defining moment for Philly as they begin the toughest stretch of their season. It’s a good thing they’ll have 11 days to prepare.

10) Week 3 – @ Washington Commanders

This early in the season, there will be some shock and awe value with Carson under center. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson, not to mention Dyami Brown, make up a legitimate receiving corps that can make plays after the catch. Washington will likely posture as a team that relies on their run game and defense and look to catch teams napping. Plus, this will be another short week for Philly, coming off a Monday night clash with the Vikings. Still, we heard it directly from Shaun Bradley on Flippin’ the Birds that the Philly defense will be coming for blood when Captain Commander Carson steps on the field. The box score might be close, but the Eagles should be able to make a clean sweep of the series.

9) Week 8 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are a solid team and Mike Tomlin is a Hall of Fame coach, but they have a lot of questions to answer at the most important position in football. The Eagles, coming off their bye, will have a lot of time to prepare for what Pittsburgh throws — or doesn’t throw — at them. Although the Steel City defense will be a good test, the Eagles defense should be able to force whoever is under center for Pittsburgh to shoulder the load. Whether it’s Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, you have to feel good about the ball being in their hands to win the football game.

8) Week 2 – vs. Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins is 1-9 in Monday night football games, and will get the chance to get the monkey off his back early on in 2022. The Vikings” defense is legit, even if they didn’t play very well in 2021. Plus, at this point in the season, the Eagles will likely still be figuring out ways to get AJ Brown involved.

However, it’s the Vikings’ offense that scares me. The Eagles have yet to find a CB2 and although I don’t mind the match-up of Avonte Maddox on either Adam Thielen or Justin Jefferson, but, the Vikings will likely move them both around to exploit the Eagles’ lack of a second outside corner. On top of that, the Eagles have yet to prove they can contain a premier back like Dalvin Cook. Fourteen of the Vikings’ games last season were decided by eight points or less. This game will be a nail-biter regardless of the outcome.

7) Week 5 – @ Arizona Cardinals

The showdown with the Cardinals, even without DeAndre Hopkins, has me nervous. Arizona is a team that dares you to outscore them and the Eagles really aren’t built to put up 40 points a game — even with a second year in the system and some added firepower. The Eagles will have to contain Kyler Murray and the passing attack. They have the athletic linebackers to chase down Murray, but this game will be a major test of the safety play. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kliff Kingsbury sends Marquise Brown deep on every other down. The Eagles will be coming off three emotionally charged games on Monday night against the Vikings, then taking on Doug Pederson and the Jags, and finally a divisional clash with the Commanders. This might be where they hit the first wall of the young season.

6) Week 17 – vs. New Orleans Saints

The Saints are a tough team to figure in 2022. At the very least, you used to be able to count on the grit of a Sean Payton-coached team. Dennis Allen is no slouch, and it is likely the defense won’t take any steps back. However, their offense could go one of two ways. Will Michael Thomas play a role? Will Jameis Winston be able to reliably take the load off of Alvin Kamara’s shoulders? How much of this offense was the genius of Sean Payton? There are a lot of questions surrounding this team, all of which should be solved by week 17. Still, it makes it a difficult test to dissect so early in the year. The Eagles have had the Saints number for the past two years, but this is still a talented team and could very well have a top defense again in 2022. This game will likely have massive playoff implications, which only adds to the nervous excitement.

5) Week 13 – vs. Tennessee Titans

In all honesty, even as the reigning one seed in the AFC, I don’t think Tennessee is that good of a team. However, they do two things very well — run the football and stop teams from scoring. Plus, Mike Vrabel winning coach of the year was no fluke. All three factors make Tennesee a team that travels well. So, it doesn’t matter much that this game will be in Philly. I don’t believe that Treylon Burks will be able to fill the shoes left by AJ Brown this early on in his career. However, stopping the passing game won’t be Jonathan Gannon’s primary concern. The Eagles have STRUGGLED to tackle bigger backs and added a group of — albeit talented — linebacker under 230 pounds. Strategically, this is a difficult matchup for the Birds.

4) Week 6 – vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Linc will be rocking when the Eagles welcome the Cowboys to Philly on Sunday Night Football. This will be a true test of character for the Birds, who are on the verge of being a true contender on paper. The ‘Boys have dominated this matchup over the last five years and the only solace is that the Eagles improved much more than Dallas did this offseason.

Amari Cooper being let go for a box of pennies probably wasn’t fiscally the best move, but I don’t think it hurts Dallas as much as people have been saying. CeeDee Lamb is the new king in town. Plus, I really do like Michael Gallup/James Washinton/Jalen Tolbert as a second option. Are the Cowboys a better team in 2022? Does it matter? To take the next step towards sustained success, the Nick Sirianni-led Eagles will have to figure out a way to beat their biggest rivals and they get an opportunity early in the season in prime time.

3) Week 11 – @ Indianapolis Colts

In a nutshell, this game will be about Nick Sirianni taking on his mentor in Frank Reich. The Colts are filled from top to bottom with intelligent, hard-working players that go out and execute. I really like the fit for Matt Ryan, so much so that I think the Colts should be favorites to win the division. Adding Alec Pierce (and Jelani Woods) gives Matty Ice a full roster of competent pass catchers to complement their talented offensive line and lethal running game. This defense wasn’t great against the pass last year, but they added Rodney McLeod and Stephon Gilmore to a young and improving roster. Again the Eagles will be facing a short week, having just faced the Commanders on Monday night. This will be a tough test and Sirianni will have to do what he can to squeeze every ounce of effort out of his squad. This might be a close game, but the Birds will work for every inch.

2) Week 12 – vs. Green Bay Packers

This conversation could start and end with Aaron Rodgers. He may just win MVP again fueled by pure spite after watching the Packers front office get rid of the best receiver in the league. Well, now it will be Christian Watson catching 15 touchdowns a year from Rodgers. It may take some time for the duo to acclimate, but expect them to be firing on all cylinders by week twelve. The 460-pound one-two punch of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon is a pain to deal with and they will force the Eagles to come up and tackle. Plus, this Green Bay defense is vastly underrated. This is not a team I’d want to face this late in the season.

1) Week 16 – @ Dallas Cowboys

A short week to prepare for a Christmas Eve game that likely decides the division against a team that has won seven of the last ten matchups? It doesn’t get much tougher than this. Of course, there is always the off chance that Dallas will Dallas it up, but they’ve generally saved their best for the Eagles — only to lose to a team like the Broncos by two scores. The Packers may be a better team when it’s all said and done, but this is the game that will make Eagles fans the most anxious. Division on the line in Jerry World with two weeks left in the season — sign me up.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire